Reverend Jerry Mraz of Holy Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church appeared before Northampton Borough Council on Thursday, March 21 to seek permission to plant a memorial Linden tree in Borough Park. Council unanimously gave Reverend Mraz their approval.
The Linden tree is the national tree of the Czech and Slovak Republics.
Reverend Mraz says the tree will “give credit and honor to our Slovak ancestors of the Borough of Northampton.”
Many citizens from Central Europe, including Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, and Poland, settled in the borough in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Reverend Mraz himself was born in Czechoslovakia, escaping Nazism on the last ship to America before the German invasion of his native country.
Reverend Mraz said that most of these new residents worked in the steel mills, stone quarries, and cement mills.
“They worked hard and well, earning the well-deserved pay,” he said. “Our borough to this day promotes that same work ethic.”
The tree will sit between two other monuments to the heritage and history of Northampton: the Stone Block House and the Burgenland Monument.
The cost of the tree will be donated by Reverend Mraz’s family. The reverend is approaching other churches in the area to see whether a small monument can be erected near the tree. He also hopes that a representative from the Slovak Consulate can be present at the tree’s dedication.